By Terje Solsvik and Nerijus Adomaitis
OSLO (Reuters) – Norway is expelling 15 Russian embassy officers that the overseas ministry stated on Thursday had been intelligence officers working beneath the duvet of diplomatic positions, the most recent such expulsion by a Western nation since Moscow invaded Ukraine.
The Russian embassy in Oslo informed Reuters Norway’s choice was “one other extraordinarily unfriendly step, which can see a response”.
Some 40 Russian diplomats are presently accredited in Oslo, so the expulsions quantity to greater than a 3rd of their quantity.
It’s the newest occasion of a Western nation expelling Russian diplomats since Moscow launched its full-scale struggle in opposition to Ukraine final 12 months. Thus far this 12 months, Estonia, the Netherlands and Austria have additionally expelled Russian diplomats.
Norway additionally expelled three Russians in April 2022.
“Their actions pose a risk to Norway,” Norwegian International Minister Anniken Huitfeldt informed a information convention.
“We’ve adopted their actions over time. They’ve elevated for the reason that invasion of Ukraine.”
The officers involved should go away Norway shortly, she added.
The Russian overseas ministry stated Moscow would reply to the expulsions, state-owned information company TASS reported, with out elaborating.
Norway, a member of the NATO army alliance, shares a border with Russia within the Arctic.
The expulsions may additional complicate the method of transferring the chair of the Arctic Council, a multilateral physique wherein Arctic nations talk about points affecting the polar area.
Moscow presently holds the chair however Norway is because of take over on Could 11 and Oslo had stated it could prioritise a clean transition.
Huitfeldt stated it was too early to say whether or not the expulsions would have an effect on the Arctic Council transition.
The Nordic nation nonetheless seeks to keep up regular diplomatic relations with Russia, and Russian diplomats are welcome in Norway, Huitfeldt stated.